A Hanover man, who’s being identified as a church leader, has been slapped with seven counts of rape.

In as statement today from the Constabulary’s Corporate Communications Unit, CCU, the police say the man was arrested on Monday, when a patrol team observed him allegedly beating a child on Barnes Lane, in Mount Pelier, Sandy Bay.

The police say allegations of sexual misconduct emerged during follow-up enquiries.

This prompted detectives from the Hanover Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, CISOCA, to be brought in to bolster the investigation.

Those investigations revealed several other allegations of sexual misconduct concerning children in the community.

The man identified as a church leader was charged after further statements were collected.

He will appear in the Hanover Parish Court next Tuesday.

Sources close to the investigation say the man is the leader of a break-away faction of the controversial St. James church sect that has recently been in the media.

Meanwhile, investigators are now appealing to people who may have been among the church leader’s victims or who may have any information that can assist the police to contact the Hanover CISOCA branch at 8769535312.

The police can also be contacted at 876962304, the police 119 emergency number or the nearest police station.